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|Running time||30 minute episodes|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Home station||BBC Radio 4|
|Directed by||Iain Davidson|
|Produced by||Gus Beattie|
|Original release||1 October 2007 – 5 September 2018|
|No. of series||8|
|No. of episodes||44|
|Audio format||Stereophonic sound|
|Website||Fags, Mags and Bags homepage|
The theme music for the show is "Smiling" by the Beta Band. In September 2017 the producer Gus Beattie revealed the list of other tracks considered for the theme, which included songs by The Go! Team, The Fratellis and The Breeders, among many others.
On 4 October 2013 it was announced on the Official Facebook page that the episode "Meter Reading Chic" would be the final episode of the show. On 4 January 2016 however, it was announced that following a hiatus of three years the show would be returning for a sixth series, that was recorded in February and broadcast in April of that year. A seventh series was announced in June 2017 consisting of 4 episodes, broadcast in August and September 2017, and it was recommissioned again for eighth and ninth series for broadcast 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Recurring guest cast:
Ramesh is a middle-aged shopkeeper, born in India but a long-term resident of the Glasgow suburb of Lenzie. He has been the proprietor of the local convenience store Fags, Mags & Bags for over 30 years. In the episode 'Evil Narbara' from series four, Ramesh reveals that he opened the store on the same day the Double Decker chocolate bar was launched. This would place the opening of Fags, Mags & Bags in 1976.
Ramesh pursues his chosen career in low-return retail with a near religious zeal, possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of product lines and a deft line in banter, seeing his shop as a microcosm of life. Twenty years hard "shop" has earned Ramesh a tan Mercedes and a pair of mushroom-coloured tasselled loafers.
Despite a ceaseless quest for the secondary purchase, and organising a fictional festival solely to boost sales, Ramesh seems to genuinely have his customers' interests at heart. He is popular with fellow shopkeepers; chairing the local Traders' Association, and also won the coveted 'Shopkeeper of the Year Award' in the Small-to-Medium Retail Concern category in Series 2.
Ramesh is a widower, having married his wife in an arranged marriage during the 1960s. By the end of series 5 Ramesh had begun a relationship with a lady called Malcolm, and they are still an item at the start of series 6, then through into series 7.
Dave is Ramesh's best friend and assistant at Fags, Mags & Bags. An amiable man in his forties, he has worked for Ramesh for many years and shares his enthusiasm for all things "shop" and the music of Barbara Dickson.
Despite his easy-going nature, Dave is periodically beset by anxieties about his job and status; suffering a full scale breakdown, brought on by Ramesh's mother-in-law. It was also revealed early on that despite his skill in the art of shopkeeping, he is unable to mind the store on his own; for reasons as yet undisclosed. He appears to be a widower, like Ramesh, as he made a reference to his wife's death certificate in the series 4 episode "Foam Wizards". He seems to have had children, as he mentions receiving Father's Day gifts in "The Festival of Maltodextrin", but they are never hinted at again. Dave briefly dated a pet psychologist named Kate during the second series, and a man named Lesley between series 6 and 7.
Dave has a talent for creating compound words, and also attempted to popularise the catchphrase Five Alive with limited success.
Ramesh's elder son sees himself as a forward thinking entrepreneur and tends to conduct conversations in marketing jargon. Alok views his father's low-return empire with disdain and is engaged in an ongoing and futile attempt to drag his father's shop upmarket.
Alok has a vastly over inflated sense of his abilities as a businessman and his ventures such as the Lembit Opik Pita Heater invariably meet with disaster. This was particularly apparent in the episode "The Wrath Of Khan" when Alok's decision to install a Slush Machine lead to a full scale retail war with the cafe at the Lenzie Leisuredome.
This unwillingness to master the day to day realities of running a suburban confectioners causes Ramesh amusement and despair in equal measure, he is unwilling to leave Alok in charge of the shop for the weekend whilst he goes away on a murder mystery weekend.
Ramesh's youngest son is in his late teens and shares his brother's disdain for the world of low-return retail. However unlike Alok this is due to teenage apathy and general surliness rather than a desire to pursue a high flying business career. Sanjay litters his conversation with SMS language and contemporary slang and treats customers with scarcely disguised indifference.
Despite this, Sanjay displays some flair for shopkeeping in "The De-Magowaning of Ramesh" where he successfully sells several secondary purchases. Sanjay also manages to show an aptitude for tabloid style reporting during work experience at a local newspaper, but with characteristic lack of tact manages to alienate Ramesh's customers and fellow shopkeepers by printing scurrilous stories about them.
Sanjay also briefly sported a moustache much to the amusement of Ramesh and Dave.
The show has featured guest stars in a number of episodes:
On 13 March 2013 the official Facebook page for the series announced a live show was to be performed towards the end of April 2013. On 9 April it was confirmed to be taking place on Tuesday 30 April 2013 at Oran Mor, in Glasgow. The two episodes that were performed, as live readings, were "Hovering Chops" and "Meter Reading Chic", both from series 5. The readings contained extra material that had been cut from the radio versions. Stewart Cairns took on the role of Frank Butcher in "Hovering Chops", that had originally been played by Barry Howard. In August 2017, Sanjeev and Donald stated in an interview that they were in the early stages of planning a touring live show. On 23 April 2019 Sanjeev Kohli announced that a live show would be taking place throughout the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, again in the form of script readings. The Fringe run was an adapted version of the episode "Meter Reading Chic", extended to run to an hour long performance.